Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Statutory Address:


© Crown Copyright and database right 2020. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2020. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1255269.pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 03-Dec-2020 at 14:57:18.


Statutory Address:

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

City of Nottingham (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SK 53202 39242





Country house, now museum. 1580-88, by Robert Smythson for Sir Francis Willoughby. Altered late C17 for Cassandra and Sir Thomas Willoughby (1st Lord Middleton), early C19 by Sir Jeffry Wyatville for 6th Lord Middleton. Converted to a museum 1925. Ancaster limestone ashlar with lead roofs. Square plan with symmetrical fronts, with projecting towers to corners, western service extension of 1823. Central 2 storey hall topped by prospect room. EXTERIOR: each floor of main building has a classical order with paired pilasters and an entablature, pilasters separated at first and second floor levels by arched niches. Central tower serving Great Hall and Prospect Room of medieval revival character, with traceried windows and projecting corner bartizan turrets with ribbed stone roofs. On all sides, 2 storey ranges, with extruded corners north and south, single bay with paired angle pilasters topped by groups of 4 cylindrical ashlar classical chimney stacks. 3 storey square corner towers (forming banqueting rooms). Basement throughout is part contained within the base of the lowest Doric order. Windows are mainly early C19 casements and sashes, introduced by Wyatville, within C16 stone cross-mullions. Windows incorporate glazing bar and plain lights, the plain lights and larger expanses of glass reserved for the grander rooms. NORTH ENTRANCE FRONT: 5 bays, has straight flight of steps with square-turned balusters of c.1804. Central projecting bay framed by single Doric columns and Ionic pilasters, with round-arched recessed doorway and scrolled elongated corbel keystone above supporting projecting entablature, on either side a heraldic shield, window above. Ornamented bay finished with raised balustrade with 2 small open aedicules topped with statuettes and central aedicule. Carved panel level with balustrade with reclining figures embracing cartouche. Great Hall & Prospect Room; 4 bays with 2 tiers of windows those forming a clerestory to the Great Hall an attenuated traceried form, with additional secondary copper glazing added by Wyatville. Paired niches between Great Hall windows. Windows to Prospect Room cross mullioned with sashes. SOUTH FRONT: wide central projecting bay framed with paired Doric columns and Ionic pilasters, ground floor window, altered early C19 to create French doors. Above, within base of Ionic order Latin inscription citing Sir Francis Willoughby and date of construction of the Hall. Bay finished with a raised balustrade topped with 2 figures from the Willoughby coat-of-arms; one of Hercules, one of a monk, 2 outer floral baskets, raised central cartouche. Double return staircase with turned balusters of c1820 (Wyatville). 3 paired openings with Doric colonettes to basement skittle alley. Great Hall & Prospect Room; similar to north front, but Great Hall windows do not have secondary glazing. EAST FRONT: 6 bays plus towers, regular fenestration with niches between upper windows, balustrade. Great Hall & Prospect Room; single windows that to Great Hall supplemented with copper secondary glazing. WEST FRONT; 7 bays plus towers, regular fenestration, less ornamentation, ashlar walls without classical orders. At lower ground level western service extension 1823, by Sir Jeffry Wyatville in Hollington sandstone; 9 bays, single-storey with pair of outer service yards, altered C20. Central projecting porch and ends, turned balusters to parapet. Great Hall & Prospect Room; single windows, that to Great Hall with copper secondary glazing, lead-roofed porch from West stair added in late C17. CORNER TOWERS; finished with elaborate scrolled strapwork pediments with centre gadrooned oculus and triangular pediment, each finished with a statuette and each corner finished with an obelisk. Towers topped by groups of 4 attenuated flues, rendered brick (c.1804 Wyatville). To corner towers and extruded corners at first and second floor levels classical busts set in circular niches, with elaborate strapwork cartouche surrounds. Busts incorporate figures of Roman and Greek classical figures both gods and scholars, and one portrait, that of Charles 1st. All elevations ornamented along the frieze of the Ionic and Corinthian orders with masks and heads including native American Indians. Strapwork ornament to plinth of pilasters, bull-rings to base of pilasters in lowest Doric order. Balustraded parapet with remains of raised strapwork ornamented aedicules. INTERIOR: restored after a fire in 1642 and re-modelled by Wyatville from 1801. CENTRAL HALL; screen designed by Robert Smythson in-situ, with screen passage and gallery over. 2 round-arches with Doric full columns and half-columns, carved strapwork ornament, reclining figures in spandrels. Parapet, probably later with strapwork ornament. On the gallery a C17 organ which has been in-situ from at least 1809. Continuous oak entablature to three walls (Wyatville c1832), continuing design of stone entablature to screen, below plain plastered walls, above painted ashlar. Elaborate fake hammerbeam roof of 1580-88 (Smythson) complete with shields and tracery, re-painted c1804 by Wyatville and again c1950, oak-panelled ceiling of 1830. Stone fireplace (painted) with coat-of-arms within round cartouche (Smythson, re-located by Wyatville c.1823). Pink diamond-set flags of 1580's. C18 clock to east wall within 1580's strapwork surround, a former window. At first floor also mullioned windows with strapwork architrave serving north & south stairs. FRONT ENTRANCE HALL; c1804 (Wyatville), 2 segmental coffered alcoves, with niches at each end, flanked by columns. Round-arched doorway to central hall with guilloche architrave. SALOON; on south front saloon c1823, created from former dining room and garden stair, restored 1988. Coade stone fireplace re-located 1988. Lozenge-panelled ceiling with cornice and foliage frieze. Panelled double-doors to hall with enriched surround, opposing French windows with additional steel-plated sliding security doors, cast-iron security shutters to windows. NORTH & SOUTH STAIRS; Imperial geometric staircases by Wyatville c.1804, with lattice balustrade and identical Renaissance Revival joinery to both stairwells. North stairwell has early C18 painted walls and ceiling - the story of Prometheus by Sir James Thornhill (adapted ceiling painting by Laguerre). Doorcases at first floor level also form part of Thornhill's scheme. South stairwell has painted ceiling - the creation of Pandora - also by Thornhill. Both staircases contain elaborate carved doorcases of c1700 and c1712, containing heraldic references to the Willoughby family. FORMER LIBRARY; c.1823, now a gallery, with paired alcoves and elaborate Rococo and Renaissance Revival joinery. Oak-panelled lined windows. Cornice incorporates frieze of the Willoughby owl. FORMER WEST DINING ROOM; now a gallery, with early C19 cornice and gesso plaster panels, segmental alcove to north end for sideboard, with carved twisted vine and corn sheaves. FIRST FLOOR; paired bedrooms and dressing rooms of c1804, now galleries and offices. North Great Chamber restored 1996. PROSPECT ROOM; interior of c1804 (Wyatville), with steel lattice beams added 1950's. Decorative Regency plaster ceiling with 3 panels and bucrania frieze to cornice. East and west ends; windows flanked by niches with shell motifs, 4 corner 6-panel mahogany doors, those to west dummies, those to east serving turret spiral stairs. On the roof turret stairs terminate in arcaded balustrades. Window pelmets of timber and plaster with painted canvas trompe l'oeil swags of drapes c.1804. Floor construction a "Chinese lattice" - Smythson, after Serlio. BASEMENTS AND CELLARS; many original features including west stair with massive square newel, servery, former west doorway, kitchen to north with groined vaulting and columns, larder with groined vaulting and central column, barrel-vaulted wine cellar. C19 features; early C19 servants dormitory, wine cellars, kitchen fittings. Extensive rock-cut C18 cellars and rectangular cistern. This building is one of the most important C16 houses in England. References; The Buildings of England: Pevsner N: Nottinghamshire: London: 1979 - : 275-280; Friedman A: "House and Household in Elizabethan England" (1989); Girouard M: "Robert Smythson and the Elizabethan Country House" (Yale 1983); Linstrum D: "Sir Jeffry Wyatville, Architect to the King" (OUP 1972); Marshall P: "Wollaton Hall - An Archaeological Survey" (Nottingham Civic Society 1996); Marshall P: "Wollaton Hall and The Willoughby Family" (Nottingham Civic Society 1999); Smith P: "Comfort and Security" (The Regency Great House, ed. Malcolm Airs, pub. OUP 1998); Smith P: "Wollaton Hall: an Architectural and Historical Assessment" (for Nottingham City Council August 2001)

Listing NGR: SK5320239242


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Girouard, M, Robert Smythson and the Elizabethan Country House, (1983)
Williamson, E, The Buildings of England: Nottinghamshire, (1979), 275-280
'The Mercian Geologist' in The Mercian Geologist, (1992), 11
Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England, Part 33 Nottinghamshire,


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 01 Aug 2007
Reference: IOE01/16556/26
Rights: Copyright IoE Dr Eric Ritchie. Source Historic England Archive
Archive image, may not represent current condition of site.
To view this image please use Firefox, Chrome, Safari, or Edge.

Your Contributions

Do you know more about this entry?

The following information has been contributed by users volunteering for our Enriching The List project. For small corrections to the List Entry please see our Minor Amendments procedure.

The information and images below are the opinion of the contributor, are not part of the official entry and do not represent the official position of Historic England. We have not checked that the contributions below are factually accurate. Please see our terms and conditions. If you wish to report an issue with a contribution or have a question please email [email protected].